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Ancient Equipment Collection - Final Gear

Old Iron

Aug 20, 2014
There’s something about old equipment that stirs up interest amongst truck lovers young and old. And while your neighbor might consider the first-gen Dodge parked in front of your house a relic, I’m talking about even older. Living in the concrete jungle that is Los Angeles has its advantages, which, for me, are the millions of miles of open desert trails to explore only a couple of hours from home, and not so much the abundance of coffee shops.
From the late 1800s until about the 1950s, mining was big business in the desert Southwest. The California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona deserts are littered with abandoned mineral and precious metal mines. Originally, these mines were operated by hand, then came steam-powered equipment, and eventually diesel-fueled internal-combustion engines. As the mining operations came to a close, oftentimes the heavy equipment brought in to work the mines was simply left behind to spare the cost of transporting the used equipment back out.
Photo 2/5   |   One thing that makes Don Robertson’s collection unique is that a lot of his relics actually run. Such is the case with this Cummins HB-400 engine. It was originally rated to produce 100 hp at 1,800 rpm and was installed in a 1939 Diamond T truck. In 1966, the framerails on the Diamond T broke, and it was subsequently transformed into a yard switcher, as it sits today.
The tree-huggers among us might not be so keen on this notion, but the fact is they probably weren’t so happy with the mining operation to begin with. For us gearheads, however, it leaves lots of cool old contraptions to look at, once you find them. Recently, I stumbled on a place called the Gold King Mine, located in Jerome, Arizona. While not quite the same as finding a neat old mine and equipment deep in the desert, this place did house the largest collection of ancient equipment I’ve ever seen.
Proprietor Don Robertson, who himself looks like he could have been working at the mine in the late 1800s thanks to his bushy beard, dirty overalls, and slouched hat, is the man responsible for the collection. Robertson collects old equipment, gathering it from all corners of the United States, and dragging it back to his property. If possible, he also gets these pieces of nostalgia running again. It really is amazing. If you’re ever nearby, I highly recommend stopping by and checking out his collection.
If you have any cool mine exploration or diesel equipment stories, or know of an awesome collection I should explore, drop me an email!
Photo 3/5   |   Cummins Diesel Engine
This early Cummins engine was a beast! Not being real well-versed in mining techniques, I’m not sure what it was used for, or exactly what it even is. All I know is I would love to have it sitting in my yard. If you have any information on this particular engine, shoot me an email about it!
Photo 4/5   |   GM Diesel Power Engine
This particular engine from the GM Diesel Engine division is a Detroit Diesel 6-71 mated to an electric generator. Rated at 90 hp at 1,200 rpm, this engine is a supercharged two-stroke inline-six.
Photo 5/5   |   GM Diesel Power Engine 001
Diesel engines performed all sorts of tasks for mining companies, from powering trucks and tractors to pumps and generators.

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